A celebration of the life of a pianist, organist,
conductor and composer – and architect.
Aylett passed away on Saturday 13th September 2014
while on holiday in Guernsey with his wife Pat. Barbara
Fell, a founder member of AFC, and Pat recall these
memories of David.
was born in Aylesbury in 1931 and lived all his life
within about a 2 mile radius of his birthplace. He
had 2 children – Mark, who sadly died in 2002,
and Kathryn, and was the proud grandfather of Carl,
Craig, Layla and Ross.
David was an architect by profession and a musician
by inclination and talent. He started learning the
piano when he was 7, and also learnt the organ from
the age of 11. For a number of years he was the organist
at the Congregational Church which once stood in the
High Street. He attended Aylesbury Grammar School
where his love and enthusiasm for music was nurtured
by the head of music, Charles Pope, who trained him
in choral singing, music appreciation, score reading
and many other skills he would need to open the doors
to the musical world. Charles became his mentor and
17, David was undecided whether to become a professional
musician or an architect but his father advised him
that being an architect would be a more financially
rewarding career. He took his father’s advice
but music remained a life-long interest and passion.
David qualified as an architect in 1954 and after
2 years in national service he began his working life
with Bucks County Council. During his successful career
he designed many schools, youth centres and other
buildings and eventually became head of the property
section, responsible for the maintenance of all the
buildings owned by the County Council.
David began playing for the rehearsals of Aylesbury
Orchestral Society recently started by Charles Pope.
Then in 1956 he was invited to take over the timpani
from a player who was leaving the area and later he
became Assistant Conductor to Charles.
the 1940s Charles Pope conducted a carol concert each
year involving the Choral Society and Aylesbury Grammar
School choir, but by 1948 his other commitments with
the Choral Society meant the concerts had to end,
much to the disappointment of both singers and audience.
David came to the rescue and sent an invitation to
all the church choirs in the area to join a United
Festival Choir to sing carols. The response was great
and a small group of 12 also formed an orchestra.
The concert was a success and so, after a break while
David did his National Service, in 1958 he sent out
a second invitation as a result of which 50 voices
came together for rehearsals. December Festival
Choir thus came into being with David as
Conductor. Despite David being an amateur, singers
of the calibre of Isobel Baillie, Heddle Nash, Heather
Harper, Pamela Bowden, John Lawrenson, Gerald English
and Owen Brannigan were happy to come and sing under
his baton and thus he became well-known in musical
In 1985 David decided he had brought the choir as
far as he could and it was time to employ a professional
conductor to take it to even greater heights. At this
point the December Festival Choir became the Aylesbury
Festival Choir. David continued his support
of the choir with his advice and by singing tenor.
you will have read David was a leading figure in the
musical life of Aylesbury for over 50 years, as Assistant
Conductor of Aylesbury Orchestral Society, conductor
of December Festival Choir (now known as Aylesbury
Festival Choir) which he founded in 1958, and Music
Adviser to Aylesbury Vale District Council. He conducted
a performance of Handel’s Messiah for the opening
concert of the Civic Centre, and organised and conducted
the concert there to celebrate the 150th anniversary
of the Bucks Herald in 1982. For over 30 years he
organised ‘Carols for Everyone’ - the
town’s annual carol concert and his choir performed
in various venues in Aylesbury Vale.
accomplished musician, he enjoyed sharing his enthusiasm
and knowledge with others and was always supportive
and encouraging to young musicians. He was delighted
when his grandsons Carl and Craig started learning
the trumpet and were able to play ‘Happy Birthday
To You’ at his 70th birthday.
he retired he had more time for composing; he began
writing musicals for primary schools and also wrote
some larger choral and orchestral works, including
one for Aylesbury Festival Choir’s 50th anniversary
concert in 2008. He was not a fan of technology and
although he could use the computer, he wrote all his
music by hand - and it was beautifully neat!
In spite of his musical achievements, David was a
modest man but one of his proudest moments was when
in 2004 he received The Lady Hilary Groves award -
a national award for his lifelong contribution to
amateur music. The following year he was invited to
a reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate British
music where he met the Queen and other members of
the royal family.
David always loved the sea and rivers and he and Pat
spent many holidays either on or beside the water.
He bought the hull of an 18ft motor boat, which they
aptly named ‘Water Music’, and spent many
hours fitting it out; when it was complete they enjoyed
holidays on the Grand Union canal. He also looked
forward to their annual holidays on hire boats, often
with friends, on the Norfolk Broads and in recent
years he enjoyed river cruises in Europe; these always
had a music theme with regular stops for concerts
in various places. It is perhaps fitting that David’s
last holiday was in Guernsey, a place he loved and
which he and Pat had visited for many years.
His other interests included reading and military
history and he loved to get his head into an historical
novel with a glass of his favourite red wine beside
He coped with the two major traumas in his life –
the death of his son, and his battle with cancer -
with a quiet fortitude and dignity, never complaining
and always appreciative of the help he received. After
his successful treatment for lymphatic cancer 6 years
ago, he and Pat became involved with the local Lymphoma
Association support group where he helped and encouraged
others who were facing the same battle; they held
many fundraising events including an annual lunch
which many of you reading this will have attended.
His contribution to music in Aylesbury was outstanding
and he gave much enjoyment to very many people who
will be eternally grateful to him.
The many tributes which his wife Pat has received
acknowledge his musical talents and impact on so many
people’s lives, his kindness and his generosity
– and there is a recurring comment – “he
was such a lovely man”.